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Twitch hopes its rewritten community policies are easier to understand

The simpler language will theoretically lead to fewer violations and more reports.

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Twitch is continuing its ongoing safety reforms with a simple but potentially useful move: writing its policies in plain language. The company has rewritten its Community Guidelines to provide what it believes is a clearer structure with simpler wording, more context and practical examples. This includes new top-level categories (such as "Civility & Respect" and "Sensitive Content") and more logical category groupings, such as a "Youth Safety" section that covers everything related to users under 18. Some violations now have dedicated categories, such as "Sexual Harassment" and "Prohibited Games."

The livestreaming service emphasizes that the guidelines themselves haven't changed. This is an effort to make the rules more usable. In theory, at least, you'll see fewer inadvertent violations and more people reporting misbehavior. Twitch pointed to past revisions as an example of what could happen. When it enacted clearer rules for hate and harassment at the start of 2021, it saw both a 920 percent year-over-year surge in enforcement as well as a 511 percent jump in valid user reports.

The rewrite is an acknowledgment that Twitch's lack of clarity has sometimes led to very real problems for creators. The service added a "Hot Tubs" category last year in part because its previous approach (lumping these streamers into the "Just Chatting" section) led to ambiguity for both users and advertisers concerned broadcasters were flouting the rules. Twitch also revised the language for its sexual content policy, and in June streamlined its approach to mentions of self-harm.

Twitch says it will continue refining the policies themselves, including a "more comprehensive" revision of its sexual content material. The clarification isn't going to satisfy users concerned about the effectiveness of the guidelines. It may result in fewer accusations of unfair bans and demonetization, though, and might make it easier for Twitch to expand policies over time.